The History of the True Cross Piero della Francesca Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Also known as The Legend of the True Cross, Piero Della Francesca's work is said to be one of his greatest and most significant of his lifetime.

Though it is not clear when the art was drawn, researchers estimate the time to be between 1440-1456AD. This amazing expression of art is at the Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo. The theme of the art is from the Lives of Saints book by Jacopo da Varagine. The entire Piece shows how well versed Francesca was with color and perspective. It has excellent geometrical details that elaborate the artist's knowledge of the same.

The main episodes of the History of the True Cross and their possible interpretations:

  • The Death of Adam
    It is said that the tree from which the cross was made was from an apple tree planted by Seth who had been visited and urged by angels to do so after his Father, Adam’s death
  • Adoration and Burial of the Holy Wood
    Queen Sheba is believed to have admired the tree and told Solomon about its meaning. Solomon then buries the tree in an attempt to prevent its future purpose until the Romans later found it.
  • Constantine's Vision and Victory
    Constantine is believed to have had a vision of the cross in heaven before the Battle of Malvian Bridge. He engraved the cross on his shield with which he won the battle causing him to convert to Christianity.
  • Judah the Jew’s torture and the Discovery of the True Cross
    Constantine’s mother looked for the real cross where Christ had been crucified. The Jews were not willing to give the information which caused their torture. Judah is then pulled out from the fire where the Jew's were being tortured and confessed where the cross is and later converts into Christianity.
  • Heraclius and Chosroes’ battle

The cross is said to have been significant during these two battles.

  • Exaltation of the True Cross
  • The Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah who signifies the prophecy behind the birth of the Christ and the Angel who is sent to bring the annunciation of the birth to the Virgin Mary.

Piero’s design is affected by the configuration of the Chapel. He divided this into three sections; the top and the two bottom rectangles. The details are well outlined speaking their significance for each event.